Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars 2009: Best Actor

If there were themes for the acting categories this year, then Best Actor's would be experience. Three of the five nominees (Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Morgan Freeman) have been nominated in this category before, and first time nominee Colin Firth has had a long, steady film career. Only Jeremy Renner is the new hotshot on the scene, though he performs as if he has been doing this for decades. This year's field is very good, though it is perhaps the weakest of the acting fields. So, without further ado, my breakdown:
  • Of course Jeff Bridges is going to win. He was great in the role of Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it's not the best performance in this category, nor is it the best of his career (that would be The Dude in The Big Lebowski). His win will be based on the he's-long-overdue angle.
  • Colin Firth was astounding in A Single Man, turning George Falconer, a role that could have been very one-note, into a complex portrait of a grieving man. His sexuality is played for poignancy rather than exploitation, and Firth lends George a gravity that grips you tightly. Its the performance of a lifetime.
  • It is the least showy performance of the group, but Jeremy Renner is phenomenal in The Hurt Locker. What really drives it home though is the supermarket scene at the end: Renner plays SSG William James as a man who is perfectly at home on the battlefield, but completely lost in the real world. Its devestating to see this adrenaline junkie at home, craving his next fix, and Renner makes him a real person in the process.
  • I loved George Clooney in Up in the Air. I really did. But it also felt like a variation on his performance as Michael Clayton in that eponymous film two years ago, which is kind of disappointing. It's not that I didn't love Clayton too, I just don't find his performance revelatory.
  • Morgan Freeman, though I love him in almost everything, didn't really deserve this one. He was given very little to do as Mandela in Invictus, and he wasn't given a chance to really show his immense talent. I know I'm probably in a very small minority here, but I think Daniel Day-Lewis should have been nominated for his performance in Nine.
And here is my ballot:
  1. Colin Firth, A Single Man
  2. Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
  3. Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
  4. George Clooney, Up in the Air
  5. Morgan Freeman, Invictus
What do you think, dear reader? Comments are welcome.

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